Chernobyl Victims Demand More Aid
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) _ Some 500 demonstrators gathered outside Ukraine’s parliament Tuesday to demand continued aid for victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and people who worked on the cleanup.
More than 2.2 million people in Ukraine are eligible for benefits stemming from the April 1986 accident, according to the Interfax news agency. The protesters alleged the government is trying to cut benefits in the 2001 budget.
The protesters also demanded that the government pay overdue benefit payments, provide $714,000 for events organized by the Chernobyl Union non-governmental organization and index pensions and subsidies to inflation going back to 1996.
The protest was timed to coincide with parliamentary hearings on new government programs for medical care and reclamation of land polluted in the Chernobyl accident.
A government spokeswoman denied that the government had made major cuts in benefits for the Chernobyl victims in the draft budget.
``The privileges were not cut on a scale to cause such a protest,″ said Svitlana Sova, a spokeswoman for the Emergency Situations Ministry. She said the government had cut some subsidies for telephone use.